First to go.
So, we decided it was about time to move house.
After nearly 34 years of family life, happy times, sad times and other times it is time to move on. That and the size of our house is now, and had been for some time, beyond that needed for our lifestyle. This thinking has been going on for some years now; family life gets in the way sometimes, but last summer we bit the proverbial bullet and got serious.
It’s a strange feeling, putting your house in the hands of an estate agent and a stranger. He measures, takes pictures, and puts it out for the public to see what your house looks like. Of course in past times, it went into the local paper or estate agent flyers. Nowadays, it can be worldwide thanks to the internet, so things can move at a far quicker pace. We initially decided not to go ‘public’ because our agent had a couple of people who had expressed interest in finding a house with a granny annex, which ours has. They didn’t go any further, so we went public at the beginning of January; the For Sale board went up on the Tuesday, we had a viewing on Wednesday, and an acceptable offer on Thursday. On the same day the owners of the house we were interested in accepted our negotiated offer. Result! It was all moving quickly, head spinningly. As everyone says to us: its all go, go, go and then it stops. Solicitors are engaged, draft contracts are raised; you decide what is staying, what is going, what is being chucked. Then the slow process of sorting the house out. After 34 years there is much junk lying around the house, in the attic, in the garage. Some of it has been there for 20 years, unloved, untouched. But one has to be ruthless, or you end up taking stuff with you and then storing it again for another 20 years.
Some surprises turn up as well, things that I’d forgotten I’d had and seemed very important to keep at the time, but now are relegated to the bin unceremoniously, unloved and unwanted. It’s a cathartic experience, and releases more space in cupboards, storage cabinets etc that you can fill with new untouched junk when you get to the new place. Overall though I thought the process would be daunting but having only scratched the surface, there must be more horrors hidden underneath. The process of the legal side if house moving does progress at a snails pace, and I wonder why? Solicitors are known for their caution and finding ways of dragging things out, but how long does it take to do a search on an 18 year old property? Then there’s the estate agent. To be fair, ours has been quite proactive in telling us what is going on, but a few phone calls to the various links in the chain doesn’t seem to justify the 1.5% fee, perhaps I’m doing them a mis-service. Besides the exorbitant cost of the Land Tax Stamp Duty, known colloquially as stamp duty, the estate agent takes the next biggest slice of the moving costs. Stamp duty in our case will be substantial, which just goes straight into the government’s coffers, the poor old punter gets not a thing out of it. I can’t understand why you have to pay a tax on something so large, but I suppose if they charged VAT on house sales, that would amount to ten times what I’ll be paying so I suppose it is quite a saving. Still sticks in my throat though, that sort of money could be very useful after moving. By comparison the solicitors and conveyancing fees seem quite light, and they appear to do most of the work. Ce la vie, as they say.
The process of buying, selling and moving house is fraught with all kinds of traps and decision making. This time is the first that we have undertaken ourselves since we bought our first house in Norfolk, without any outside influence. We bought this house while I was stationed in Northern Ireland and involved decisions being made jointly by Fran and my parents, now sadly departed. We’ve lived in this house for nearly all the time on our own with the children, my parents only lasted three years after we moved in. So, now onwards and upwards. Our youngest daughter has lived in Australia with her husband for three years, our eldest daughter lives about a mile away, but is thinking of moving as well, the house is really too big for house, and the garden definitely is too big. The place we are moving to also has four bedrooms but has a smaller footprint, smaller garden and crucially is at the end of a close or cul-de-sac. But the essential thing it gives us a bit more economic freedom, having sold and bought with a difference in price. I suppose what we are doing is cashing in 34 years of equity that has been built up. Of course there are things to tackle at the new house but all at a fairly low cost. Added to that and the town nearest to where we are moving is one of the newly announced ‘eco-towns’ although I’m not too sure what this will mean in real terms. Anyway I shall be updating this blog when there is progress to report.